It’s a terrible feeling to be let go from a job, especially if you didn’t see it coming. If you’ve had this experience, would you say it’s the equivalent of a sucker punch in the gut? Did it have lingering aftershocks to your self-esteem and sense of judgement? As I write this, I’m still asking, more than two years later, “Am I ready to expose this healed wound to my colleagues?” In some way, it’s like removing an emotional scab and potentially reopening a Pandora’s box of hurt and doubt.
From one hygienist to another, here I go. I’m ready to share my unforeseeable journey. Don’t worry, this will not be a personal therapy session, but rather a triumphant testimonial to the power of intention, perseverance, and the necessary tools to help you turn an idea—your passion—into a viable business. My goal is for at least one person, maybe you, to be inspired by my story and then pay it forward. Are you ready?
The first weeks after I was let go (I still hesitate to say the “f” word . . . fired) from my corporate job, I decided to take time for selfcare. After having 60- to 80-hour workweeks and traveling two to three times per month, I adjusted to a new “time zone,” which meant actually having time for myself and my family. I joined a gym to shed both physical and emotional pounds and to sculpt the inevitable “corporate butt” I’d developed from sitting at the computer for eight to 10 hours a day. I highly recommend incorporating a daily exercise routine, for two reasons. Not only is it good for the body, mind, and soul, but it is also appealing to have a daily standing appointment in a newly empty calendar.
A monumental benefit of working out was the ability to listen to podcasts while doing cardio. I gained tremendous insights from various thought leaders such as Wayne Dyer, Sara Blakely, and Oprah Winfrey and her Super Soul Sunday interviewees. They all had similar messages.
These included: the power of intention plus perseverance equals abundance. Sounds simple, right? It’s like the simple equation of losing weight: reduced calories plus exercise equals weight loss. Easy, right?
Warning: Entrepreneurship is not for the lighthearted, though it’s well worth the effort. You must have grit, meaning, according to Merriam-Webster, “firmness of mind or spirit, and unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”
Here are the seven steps that I used on my journey. I hope these will help you uncover your inner entrepreneur.
- Find your passion
- Practice blind faith
- Be resourceful
- Persevere and be resilient
- Practice patience
- Be grateful
Find your passion
I asked myself: What do I love? What is my passion? For me, this was the easy part. I love to help dental professionals help their patients improve their airway health. This was the foundation for forming my company, Airway Health Solutions.
If you are not sure what your passion is, here are some additional questions that may help you uncover your purpose. What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you do if you won the lottery?
You may now have an idea of what your calling is, but how do you get from finding your purpose to having abundance? This is the juicy part! It seems inevitable that fear and doubt will creep in after finding your purpose.
Practice blind faith
Some common questions include, “How am I going to do this?” “Why am I even considering this, especially at my age?” “Who do I think I am?” Here are two questions to help address the source of inevitable entrepreneurial jitters: What is holding you back? What can you do to overcome?
The answers to both ultimately come down to conquering your fear—fear of the unknown and the unchartered waters. Let’s turn that fear into empowerment. This is where faith comes into play.
Sometimes I see myself like Mr. Magoo. For younger readers who may not know of this cartoon figure, he was a blind old man who had a lot of fortitude. He would keep walking with his trusty cane into dangerous situations and magically be OK. For example, he could walk into a construction site and things would fall all around him, but he kept walking. He was fearless and triumphant. Be like Mr. Magoo. Have blind faith and just keep walking.
Many times, we doubt our abilities and ask, “Am I capable?” Am I worthy?” “Am I good enough?” Let’s combat fear with self-affirmations. An impactful mental exercise is to simply switch “Am I” to “I am.” Give it a try. “I am capable,” “I am worthy,” “I am good enough,” “I am making a difference.”
Let’s assume you realize your passion. You are all in and ready to jump on the entrepreneurial roller coaster. Where do you start? My suggestion is to start where you are. No need for a significant financial investment. There are plenty of free and low-budget resources, software, and services. You can refer to my “12-step Entrepreneurial Toolbox,” shown in the sidebar.
Network, network, network
My network consists of three circles: (1) my inner circle, meaning my most trusted friends and confidants, (2) my secondary circle, meaning friends, colleagues, and work acquaintances, and (3) my third circle, meaning support groups such as social media groups and contacts via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
All three circles are integral for the health of your psyche and business. Reach out and develop your networking circles. Remember, networking is a verb. This is not the time to be shy. Embrace your unique gifts and contributions. I find that one of the most rewarding parts of networking is paying it forward and being part of another person’s creative process. It is in the giving that we truly receive.
This is arguably the most important quality of a successful entrepreneur. The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing threat to many businesses. The words “pivot,” “unprecedented,” and “the new normal,” have been used repeatedly for a reason. To be considered relevant you must pivot in this unprecedented time to find the new normal for your business. I assume we hygienists have pivoted so much we’re dizzy! But without perseverance and resilience, you will break under pressure.
Pre-COVID-19, my business, Airway Health Solutions, focused on live events, teaching doctors how to implement airway health. My last live event was March 1. Here comes the pivot . . . our events are now online course offerings, which have become my new normal.
Being patient is my biggest challenge. After all, who doesn’t love instant gratification? One thing that has helped me is to tie patience into blind faith. You’ve heard the adage, “Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.” I have found during these last two years that if my initial wishes had come true, I would not be a successful entrepreneur.
Since I have taken the steps I shared with you, I am truly grateful for all of the events that have transpired, including being fired. (Yes, I can say it now . . . fired.) Gratitude can take time after a traumatic event. I believe it is the last step in any healing process and an important part of being a successful entrepreneur. Be grateful not only for each accomplishment and triumph, but also for each lesson learned. Be grateful for the gift of wisdom, your health, and your family and loved ones. If you set aside time every day to focus on all of the things that you’re grateful for, it will help you embrace each day in all its glory, uncertainty, and opportunity.
My journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur was based on grit, passion, faith, resourcefulness, networking, perseverance, patience, and being grateful. You too can find your passion and experience abundance. My hope is that you can use this information as a blueprint to embrace your entrepreneurial spirit and start that business. There are many others waiting to be inspired by you. Yes, you! What are you waiting for?
12-step Entrepreneurial Toolbox
- Invest in a quality laptop and strong Wi-Fi. This is your portable office.
- Establish a limited liability company (LLC) and open a separate business checking account. There are many tax benefits of owning your own LLC. This is a good conversation to have with your accountant.
- Establish a company name and logo. I used Vistaprint for logos and marketing materials for a nominal fee. I am pleased with their services and value.
- Get a domain at godaddy.com and create your own website. It’s easy! Check out my website at airwayhealthsolutions.com.
- Get a business credit card. It helps keep track of your business expenses and provides useful accounting reports. Also, you can take advantage of points and cash back.
- Get a company email. It is important to have a strong first impression. Try to avoid using personal emails. You can also share calendars and google documents with future team members.
- Use a calendar software program to schedule your appointments. This is key! There are free services available. This is not only a great first impression but saves you countless emails when scheduling conference calls.
- Establish a billing and accounting service. I find that Wave user-friendly and a must-have to keep my billing and accounting in check.
- Invest in software for proposals and agreements. I use Bidskech, which has templates and helps keep track of your proposals, when they are viewed, and most importantly, when they are accepted.
- Invest in a professional Zoom account. It’s worth the small monthly, tax-deductible fee.
- Create a business social media presence via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. This is free! FB business page offers a free marketing service.
- Use free services offered by the Small Business Administration. They offer free webinars. I was even able to meet with a coach who helped me develop a business plan for free.
Don’t forget to attend RDH Under One Roof events. It is invaluable to be part of this incredible network of like-minded hygienists!
Author’s note: Airway Health Solutions is an airway-focused dental consulting and continuing education platform that helps dental practices implement treatment modalities to intercept sleep disordered breathing via growth and development of the jaws. This includes using clear aligner therapy and myofunctional and expansion appliances, along with interdisciplinary collaboration for patients. Airway Health Solutions’ services include CE courses, such as the popular two-day mini residency with Dr. Ben Miraglia, as well as the new “whole health integration” courses featuring Dr. Felix Liao.
Lauren Gueits, BS, RDH, is the founder and president of Airway Health Solutions, and a recipient of the 2010 RDH Sunstar Award of Distinction. She trains dental professionals on airway health solutions, comprehensive care, and oral-systemic links. Gueits received her degree from the State University of New York and postgraduate training in myofunctional therapy through the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy. She is a guest faculty at New York University, an industry key opinion leader, published author, and raises awareness about oral-systemic health and expansive orthodontics.